Victor will soon have a cider house and tasting room.
The Perez brothers of Jackson, founders of Highpoint Cider, plan to start brewing in a new facility in the northwest corner of town within a month, although the public-facing side of the business may be delayed due to COVID.
Alex Perez was burned out on work in Boston when he moved to Wyoming in 2017, and saw a niche in the market; locally brewed hard cider, so common in the northeast, was harder to find out west. He put together a business plan before even brewing the first batch, and convinced his biochemist brother Andrew to tag along for the ride.
“We bought a book on cider,” he said with a laugh. What followed was two years of experimentation. They brewed close to 250 batches.
“In the first 35 or 40 attempts, we had to dump a lot of gasoline cider,” Alex said. “Now we’re actually drinking it and going through it a lot faster.”
But they struggled to find a space for the venture. Gavin Fine of Roadhouse Brewing gave them the keys to the old brewpub on Moose Wilson Road while they looked for a permanent home.
“Manufacturing space in Jackson comes at a premium,” Andrew said. “We checked out probably six different spaces.”
Highpoint Cider has faced its share of challenges. In the summer of 2019, the brand that was then known as Solitude Cider received a cease and desist letter from a private wine label. Rebranding was difficult because so many names were taken.
“That was a low point,” Alex said. “We had no building and we didn’t even have a name anymore.” After long brainstorming sessions, they landed on Highpoint, and reworked their social media and packaging to reflect that.
Like several other Jackson manufacturers, including New West Knifeworks, the Perez brothers started casting an eye over Teton Pass. Mikey Franco of the custom snowboard company Franco Snowshapes was building a facility in the light industrial area of Victor off Lupine Lane. It was serendipitous.
“There’s so much opportunity over here,” Alex said. “We’re excited to be in Victor and to be sharing space with Mikey.”
The capacity of the Highpoint brewhouse with four 40-barrel tanks will be around 1,200 gallons of cider. The apples come pressed from the western slope of Colorado; Alex explained that pressing apples in-house would mean higher costs and dedicating the entire space to fruit processing. “We wanted to focus on the cider,” he said.
Highpoint is aiming for the happy medium between syrupy mass market cider and “bougie, funky, high-tannin” boutique cider, Andrew explained. Their offerings are drinkable, semi-dry, and 6 percent alcohol with big aroma thanks to ginger, hops, or huckleberry depending on your preference.
Their favorite product is the Tram-Line, a cider dry-hopped with Mosaic hops.
“We stumbled on it by accident and then spent 18 months trying to recreate the recipe,” Alex said. “We hope it’ll bridge the gap for people who love craft beer. It’s incredibly fruity and floral and delicious.”
The 16-ounce cans of Highpoint Cider will be available for purchase around the region. As far as drinking in-house, Alex admitted they aren’t sure when they’ll be able to fully open the taproom, but when that happens they’ll have guest taps for local breweries and other area cideries like Chasing Paradise in Driggs and Farmstead Cider in Jackson. They hope to offer space for a food truck and outdoor seating in warmer months.
Now the main focus, aside from finishing the brewhouse build-out, is to launch a Kickstarter, Alex said. The online fundraising will go toward a centrifuge, which removes yeast and other solids from the cider during the brewing process. Rewards for backers include branded pint glasses, growlers, and coasters as well as invitations to product launches, a VIP grand opening party, and even ski days with the Perez brothers. Find the campaign at kickstarter.com.